Employee retention strategies: best practices and common myths

What is employee retention?

Employee retention: you can’t go overboard with it and you can’t undermine it. It should be a balanced process, if an employer goes overboard with it, they give an impression of being too desperate to retain the employees and if they undermine it they look like, employees are not their priority.  

Employee retention is a process where employees are encouraged to remain in the organization for a long period of time using the most effective employee retention strategies and tools. This is an activity that is mutually beneficial for both, the organization and the employee.

Employee retention is a Human Resource management planning. According to a study conducted, 41% of the employees in the United States of America quit their jobs every year, just because they are unhappy at their workplace.

There are various reasons why employees quit their jobs or are constantly disengaged.

Indeed retention of the employees at a workplace is not a matter of records and reports. For an organization, it is extremely important if they understand the concerns of their employees. Thus, organizations need to study more carefully and come up with better retention strategies for their employees.

Employee retention strategies: 7 best practices 

Succeeding in developing employee retention strategies requires you to think out of the box. All employees in an organization are different with different goals and aspirations. But these are certain attributes each one of them expects from the organization and those are indeed common. They want to be treated fair and equal, they want to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance, be happy at the workplace and so on. 

Effective employee retention strategies talk about addressing all this and more. But as an organization, you need to rise above the basics. The support you provide your employees from day one makes all the difference and determines their tenure at the workplace. Here are 7 employee retention strategies every organization must follow:

1. Effective onboarding process: Every new employee should undergo an onboarding process. Why is this so important? You should aim for success right from day one! An effective onboarding process should cover different components namely: orientation, thorough explanation of policies and procedures, organization’s expectations, resource allocation, workplace culture, goals and aspirations and more. Give your new employees opportunities to ask questions and how they arrive. Respond to them, so they know their concerns are being taken care of.

2. Compensation: It is absolutely essential in this competitive era, that you provide your employees with the best compensation packages. This includes salary, but also offer them perks, rewards and recognition for the extra time and effort they are expected to put in. Let your employees know you appreciate their loyalty towards the organization. Provide them with health benefits, retirement plans to distinguish your organization from others. 

3. Conducive workplace: Workplace environment needs to be conducive among many other things. When the management has its goals and priorities well defined, it reflects in the workplace culture and ethics. Monday blues exists only if employees are not happy or don’t feel inclusive. When employees feel they belong to that place, there’s different energy they carry. Remember there will always be some amount of work-related stress because of the deadline, expectations, client meetings, but also know these are all temporary!

4. Work-life balance: In this overly competitive universe, most employees are struggling to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance. When an organization turns a blind eye and considers its employees as machines and not humans, start expecting unreasonably from them all the time, that’s when you wear out your employees. As an organization, you don’t want your employees to hold grudges against you and then quit. Giving them time off, work from home, allowing them to leave early, understanding their personal needs, etc are some of the things organizations can do to keep their employees rejuvenated and happy. 

5. Training and development programs: People join organizations with an intention to give their best shot at the role they are offered. But are they going to be doing the same thing year after year? Imagine if that would be the situation, how bored and dissatisfied your employees will be. However, every organization knows that this is not the actual scenario, to help your employees get better, you need to make sure to help them to expand their horizons through different training and development programs, that not just help them perform their current job better but also help them learn new skills. 

6. Open door- literally: Many a time employees have inhibitions speaking their mind, most of them are afraid they would lose their jobs and many wait to discuss it in the exit interview when it’s too late. Now, this is something top level management can change. They must give confidence to their employees to speak their inhibitions freely with consequences. Give your employees the freedom to walk to the HR and express any concerns hampering their performance at work. Also, ensure them to address their concerns with suitable actions. 

7. Beyond work: In a formal setup such as a workplace, there are clear demarcations of hierarchies, etc. In most organizations, people come to work, do their work and leave. Communications are formal, employees tell their managers only what is asked and vice versa. Go beyond this. Get to know your employees better, have informal chats while on tea breaks, organize team outings. This changes the dynamics of a supervisor-subordinate relationship at work. 


What are the myths about employee retention?

Although organizations need to consider employee retention as one of the most important factors in running an organization, only a few actually implement effective and measurable strategies that help quantify the results.

One of the core reasons is the existence of the number of false stories or myths around this terminology that are too generalized and derived through unquantifiable means.

Here are a few myths that may have changed the way organizations see employee retention.

1. Employees quit because they can’t handle pressure: Pressure is one of the many reasons why employees leave but aren’t the only reason.

In organizations with 500 plus workforce, employees may even quit because of lack of responsibilities and not because they cannot deal with the pace at work.

2. All employees quit for a better paying job: Although money can be tempting, employees who are satisfied, engaged and comfortable at their workplace rarely leave because they are offered a better paying job.

If there are growth opportunities offered, if there are rewards and recognition within the organization, there would be less of attrition.

3. Employees leave because of “horrible bosses”: Managers and supervisors can be a befitting factor but so can unfair pay, confusion in a workplace and poor communication.

It is true that management can be a tangible factor but pinpointing it as a root cause is equally unfair.

4. Employee retention is an unquantifiable task: Employee retention is not an unquantifiable task unless you are doing everything wrong in an organization to retain your employees (the chances of which are rare).

Visible changes all throughout the organization in terms of communication, appreciation and work culture can play as motivating factor for your employees to stay back.

Why is employee retention so important?

1. Let’s accept it, hiring is not an easy process: None of the organizations are unaware of the fact, that hiring is a tedious process. From a large pool of candidates, the perfect candidate is chosen after due deliberation.

Between searching for candidates and actually hiring them is a long process and definitely not an easy one. Imagine an organization going through the same process time and again! Nightmare, right?

2. A lot of time, energy and money are invested in this process: Employee turnover is a big issue for the human resources in particular and the organization in general. A great deal of time and resources are invested in finding the most suitable candidate for the job.

If the employee is seasoned he/ she comes with a skill set and doesn’t need much training. But for a candidate straight out of the university, a lot of hard work is needed to train him or her. And if they leave the organization within six months to one year, all that hard work goes to waste.

3. Competitors are waiting to hire your top employees: A well-trained employee is an asset to an organization. But when an employee of such a cadre quits an organization he/she is most likely to be employed by the competitors, as such employees know the strategies and policies well.

To avoid such situations, organizations should get a non-compete agreement signed by employees to retain them and restrict them from passing important information to their competitors.

4. Loyalty comes with time: According to a study, employees who stay around for a longer duration in a particular organization are more likely to be loyal and hardworking than others who keep job hopping.

They seem to have a better rapport with their colleagues and are proven to be better administrators and reporting authority. They are also better performers and achievers. This is another reason why an organization must take employee retention seriously.